During a skype meeting that took place the week prior to my Isla Urbana visit in DF Mexico, Jenny White, Community Outreach Director, excitedly told me that Isla Urbana had been taking part in a Reality TV Program called “Iniciativa Mexico”. I have to hand it to the production company that acted on the idea to utilize reality tv for social good.
Televisa, the Mexican TV programmer, partnered with the Mexican Government who provided a 2 for 1 match to the prize money. Initially 25 projects were selected through an ASHOKA appointed panel, and then over 8 weeks, the project teams were pared down through an elimination process from 25 to 10, 6 and eventually at the Gran Final, there were 4 remaining projects competing for the prize of 30 million pesos (that’s around 2.25 million to you and me). Isla Urbana originally selected into the first group of 50 made it into the top 25. Even though they progressed no further than the that, they received 2.25 million pesos, which added roughly $180,000 to their coffers!
Their sister project, Sistema Biobolsa made it all the way through to the final countdown, one of the 4 remaining projects to appear on the Gran Final show which took place last night in front of a live audiance at the Auditorio Nacional. It was a gala night complete with red carpet. A typical television taping, with an excited audience incorporating large numbers of supporters for each team. Isla Urbana were there to cheer on their other half, and the tension was clearly mounting when Camillo, the television face of Sistema Biobolsa was one of the 2 last remaining projects! In the end, SB placed second, still huge winners taking home 15 million pesos ($1.2 million), which will help them to take the Biobolsa into the big leagues in terms of future projects and creating even more sustainability.
The home office of Isla Urbana was literally buzzing after a celebratory party on Sunday night. Enrique Lomnitz, director had just arrived back from a 2 week stint working with the Huichol Indians on Rainwater Harvesting. He is excited about the prospects this brings to IU and SB, both projects of IRRI.
“Last year we installed over 500 rainwater harvesting systems into homes here in DF, and we are going to be going forward with another 400-500 systems in the coming year”. Enrique wants Isla Urbana to utilize their prize money to help build up sustainability, both in the previously installed systems, and in creating a better infrastructure framework for individuals. Currently there is no feasible way that participants not using any Delgacion (city) water to opt out of paying for it. Imagine if you were running completely off grid, but your provider still made you pay the same amount as if you were using services fully! Enrique is looking to other cities that have already created rebate models for its citizens that are invested in ecological sustainable models for anything from water, electricity usage, recycling etc. Its good for everyone, this show is only just beginning!
1.The Iniciativa Award
2. Enrique Lomnitz talks to me about Isla Urbana’s experience on the show
3. Entering Auditorio Nacional
4. Camillo from Sistema Biobolsa
5. INside the taping
6. Sol Garcia and myself at the Televisoin Taping
7.The winner is announced
8. Zach celebrates back at the IU offices
9. Enrique Lomnitz talks with David Vargas